Heading into Wednesday morning there were two fascinating storylines hovering over the NBA world. The first was Kyrie Irving’s continued absence from the Brooklyn Nets. The second was James Harden’s increasingly fraught relationship with the Houston Rockets.
By Wednesday afternoon, a resolution was reached on the latter matter. After much consideration, Houston traded Harden to the Nets in a massive, multi-team deal.
The Kyrie Dilemma, however, remains unresolved.
According to Jason Dumas of Kron4 News, a big reason why the Nets felt compelled to give up a king’s ransom in return for Harden is because Irving’s status remains such a question mark.
“The Brooklyn Nets were always interested in acquiring James Harden but the deal became imperative in light of the situation with Kyrie Irving,” he wrote. “Kyrie is willing to sit out the year if need be those close to him are saying.”
The fact that not even the formation of a Big Three with Harden and Kevin Durant can inspire Irving to return to the fold is telling.
Irving has missed the Nets’ last four games, and by all accounts he has no plans to come back any time soon — despite how supportive the organization has been.
Earlier in the day, Tommy Dee of SNYtv reported that Irving’s relationship with Brooklyn was even worse than people may have initially realized.
“I’m told he’s been ‘furious’ at the organization for some time for not giving him more input on the head coach hiring,” Dee wrote.
“He was not in favor of Steve Nash. Also, his relationship with Kevin Durant has been described as ‘very distant’ recently.”
It has gotten to the point where even Stephen A. Smith is demanding that Irving retire.
The Bucks owner’s daughter decided to bring 2021 in with a bang by stripping all her clothes off. https://t.co/UgzhEEna4o
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 7, 2021
When Irving is actually playing basketball, he is a remarkable talent. So far this year he is averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from beyond the arc.
But he actually needs to be playing to justify the headache that seems to inevitably accompany his presence.
The Nets made a big bet when they decided to acquire Harden. Aside from young, talented prospects like Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, they also gave up a treasure trove of future picks. The Rockets got Brooklyn’s three unprotected first-round draft picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026, as well as pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027.
Boogie is tired of James Harden’s nonsense. https://t.co/HL0qnzPuKV
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 13, 2021
Irving, Durant and Harden are now set to make a combined $115 million.
This entire experiment hinges on all the superstar pieces at Brooklyn’s disposal perfectly aligning.
Will they? At the moment, it’s looking a bit unlikely.